After a four-game series at Great American Ball Park last weekend, the Cardinals and Reds will play a three-game set at Busch Stadium this weekend. This series will begin on Friday evening.
This will be the Reds’ first series under the guidance of Jim Riggelman. Cincinnati publicly announced on Thursday morning that Bryan Price was relieved of his duties as manager. This comes as the Reds sit at 3-15 to start the year - the worst record in baseball. The Royals are right there, too, at 3-13.
Riggelman had served as Price’s bench coach. Riggelman played in the Cardinals’ farm system from 1976 through 1981 before he began managing in 1983. Riggelman went on to manage the Cardinals’ A-ball affiliate in ‘83 and ‘84 and guided the Double-A club in 1985-88.
In Friday’s series opener, Michael Wacha will take on Brandon Finnegan. First pitch of the game is scheduled for 7:15 PM Central time. In his last 10 starts against the Reds, Wacha is 8-0 with a 2.43 ERA. This fact includes his most recent outing in Cincy, when Wacha limited the Reds to three runs in five innings. On the whole, Wacha’s 2017 season has not been ideal. Opponents are batting .250 with six extra-base hits off Wacha with four doubles and two long balls. Another start against the Reds may help Wacha positively revise those metrics.
Finnegan made his season debut against the Cardinals on April 14 and lasted 4 1⁄3 innings. Finnegan surrendered five runs on six hits while walking and striking out four batters. The biggest obstacle Finnegan faced his outing was Greg Garcia; the infielder popped two home runs off the left-handed hurler. So, look for Garcia to get a spot in Friday’s starting lineup.
Carlos Martinez will face Homer Bailey in Saturday’s contest - a 1:15 PM Central time start. Martinez dominated these Reds on April 15, going seven innings and shutting out the team on two hits. Martinez whiffed 11 batters in the outing. Entering Friday, Martinez leads the National League Central division in strikeouts with 30; Ivan Nova of the Pirates is second to Martinez with 22.
Bailey pitched very well against St. Louis his last time out. Bailey - like Martinez - went seven innings and held the Cardinals to three runs - two of those on Harrison Bader’s first long ball of 2018. Over his last two starts (the one against the Cardinals and 4/10 against the Phillies), Bailey has a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings with 11 strikeouts and two walks.
The series finale on Sunday afternoon will feature Miles Mikolas toeing the rubber for the Cardinals; Mikolas’ counterpart will be the Reds’ Luis Castillo. Mikolas last pitched on April 14 in Cincinnati, where he logged seven innings of one-run ball. The lone run Mikolas allowed was a solo homer to catcher Tucker Barnhart. For Mikolas, it will be his second start at Busch Stadium.
Castillo has one of three wins for the Reds thus far in 2018 and has gone six or more innings in his last two starts. Against the Brewers on April 16, Castillo went 6 2⁄3 frames with four earned runs allowed; this outing resulted in a Reds win. Batters have been seeing Castillo well this April, collecting six doubles and four homers off of him in just 22 2⁄3 innings. In 89 1⁄3 frames in 2017, batters totaled just 13 two-baggers and 11 long balls.